So long as the Big Things are right, we can ignore the niggles, the little but regular annoyances which keep me from dropping off at night. I am a cradle Catholic brought up in the schools of harder knocks (or Knox?) and there are still a handful of things to get off my chest. I was reminded of them at Latin Mass last week.
My mother had divorced her first husband and married the man who became my father. She was forbidden Communion during his lifetime.
God has His ways. My father died in a road accident, aged 35. My mother went to Confession. To repent for the years of happiness she had shared with him? The children she had borne him? Who knows, or can ever know? She was given absolution – a technical knock-in, I suppose they call it.
I discussed this with Fr Julian Large, Provost of the London Oratory, whom I enjoyed sitting next to at lunch. An ex-journalist priest. There should be more.
Niggles: the congregant who prays louder than everyone else and 0.5 of a second ahead or behind.
The priest who likes to “sing” (solo) whenever he can.
The priest who reads a marginally different Gospel from that in the
The obduracy of those who, contrary to the example of the first Bishop of Rome, argue against married priests but were silent on the matter for the first few hundred years.
My wife and I went to see the movie The Two Popes, expecting to dislike it intensely. But it’s quite wonderful. The performances of Jonathan Pryce as Pope Francis and Anthony Hopkins as Benedict XVI are simply superb. The arc of the narrative is entirely fictional and may sound dull but isn’t. Pryce in particular weaves a kind of magic spell over the audience much as I suspect Francis himself would do. But the two actors combine in scene after scene to toy with their roles, to inhabit their characters and to simply envelope you in the art of acting. Without “acting”.
Less beautiful is the week’s other film, The Irishman, which is directed by Martin Scorsese, another cradle Catholic. It’s set among that community which respected thuggery over the ways of Jesus. Their excuse is poverty, but they forget that Jesus wasn’t a rich man. The mafia do as much damage to the reputation of Catholicism as do ISIS terrorists to their own religion.
The Irishman – or Scorsese’s The Irishman – is a terrific movie full of tribalism, violence and revenge. A “house painter” is so called because he has decorated the walls of houses with the blood of those he has murdered.
Apropos the director credit mentioned in the preceding paragraph, could the Guardian critic and several of the posher reviewers please stop ascribing all authorship of a film to the director? If Mr Scorsese directed the film, he has co-authors: the writer(s), the photographer, the actors, the production designer, the editor, the composer. None of whom can be squirrelled away as a subspecies of Mr Scorsese. I can see how it’s convenient to ascribe all authorship to the director. It just isn’t true.
About 20 years ago I wrote the screenplay of a film, The Witches, which is now being remade. I’m sure it will be fine. But I cannot understand what was lacking or absent from the earlier version which apparently needs repair.
Can Anjelica Houston’s performance be bettered? Is there a funnier hotel manager than Rowan Atkinson? Bruno’s parents, played by the wonderful Bill Patterson and Brenda Blethyn, were surely as good as it gets in their surly horror when they discover that their son has been turned into a mouse.
Roald Dahl criticised my script for killing off the parents of our leading child early in the film, saying it was an unnecessarily brutal piece of storytelling. But he commented no further when I showed him that I had been utterly faithful to his novel: he had bumped the parents off on page 13.
Strange how you may think an idea poor or indifferent until learning it was one of your own.
As a member of the American Academy for Motion Picture Arts and Science, I am one of the handful who vote to award Oscars. Which leads me to ponder whether a rich man can get into heaven. It seems a bit of a generalisation but one convenient to condemn, say, Donald Trump, who surely has multiple sins besides. But if he lied about his wealth, as is now supposed, then the gates of heaven are open to him after all.
Now there’s a niggle to ponder as you drop off.
Allan Scott is a screenwriter and producer
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